Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.

Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four or five candles.

The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. Many churches are beginning to use blue candles in Advent wreaths. Why blue?

Blue symbolizes hopefulness. Using blue candles emphasizes the difference between Advent and Lent.

The Season of Advent anticipates both Bethlehem and the consummation of history in the second coming of Jesus Christ. That’s hopefulness whereas Lent’s purple emphasizes repentance with a mood of solemnity and somberness.

Traditional liturgical churches light the first candle of an Advent wreath on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, or the Sunday, which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. Each candle has a specific significance.

1st CANDLE is the PROPHECY CANDLE or Candle of Hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. Isiah 7:14

2nd CANDLE is the BETHLEHEM CANDLE or the Candle of Preparation. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

3rd CANDLE is the SHEPHERD CANDLE or Candle of Joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. Luke 2:7-15

4TH CANDLE is the ANGEL’S CANDLE which signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. Luke 2:10-11

5th CANDLE is the CHRIST CANDLE reminds us Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God and is lit on Christmas Day.

Lighting the candles of an Advent wreath in church or our home is a sign of watching and waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior. Our home Advent wreath is a simple wreath with purple candles. Next year we’ll probably use blue. Advent wreaths are a wonderful way to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Do you or your church use an Advent wreath?